Hot take: “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” (2008) is the best film of the High School Musical trilogy. The production value is incredible, the soundtrack is stellar and the plot is only mildly ridiculous. I will always tear up when, at the end of the film, Troy tells the crowd at the spring musical that he’s decided to go to a college only 32.7 miles away from Gabriella, the person who most inspires his heart. Yes, I teared up typing that sentence.
Despite my emotionality for that particular scene, my favorite part of the entire movie is when Troy and Gabriela perform “Can I Have This Dance” and waltz in their high school’s rooftop garden. I, too, would like to dance with a 21-year-old Zac Efron on the roof of East High, but I am not Vanessa Hudgens or living in a fictional movie universe set in Albuquerque, N.M., so the garden rooftop of Tisch Library will have to do (still fielding applications for a Zac Efron stand-in, though).
In all seriousness, Tisch Library’s rooftop garden is undoubtedly my favorite place at Tufts. Yes, this is in large part because it reminds me of my favorite childhood film, but also because it’s a beautiful place where I can find moments of serenity on an otherwise hectic campus.
This past Wednesday I got out of class early, so I decided to stop by the roof on my walk home. It was a sunny day, warmer than usual. I sat down in the shade of the garden’s trees and looked out onto the Boston skyline — the one I’ve known and loved my whole life — and thought about “High School Musical 3″ (HSM3), as I often do, and about the many ways in which my senior year of college isn’t at all like Troy and Gabriela’s senior year of high school, despite the wishes of my inner 12-year-old.
But I also thought about the ways in which my life right now is very much like HSM3, because it’s ultimately a movie about letting go, saying goodbye and moving onto a new chapter of life, all things that I’m currently working through as graduation creeps up on me. The film reminds me to embrace change, in all of its forms, with a sense of hope and optimism, despite how hard that all can be.
The thought that, in a few month’s time, spontaneous and sunshine-filled afternoons on the Tisch roof won’t be a part of my regular routine is bittersweet. It’ll be hard to move on from my time spent on that roof and at Tufts in general. But the fact that my time left here is limited is making me appreciate it all so, so much more. I’m being forced to live intentionally, to not dwell on the stresses of my senior spring but to focus on the good, on love and gratitude and on connection and joy.
It’s hard work. It’d be easier to try to move through all of this quickly and to spend my time worrying about what the future holds. Instead, I’m choosing to soak this all up and to remember that, while my time remaining at Tufts is finite, I’ll always carry the memories from my four years here incredibly close to my heart. And I know that the Tisch roof will always be there to serve as a reminder that, while a lot is changing right now, some beautiful things can hold steady.